Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For January 2nd, 2009 Edition.
I've reached that time of the year I refer to as "The In Between Time." To me it's somewhat of a "dead zone" that falls between the end of the fall hunting season and real winter. It's a time I reflect on all the wonderful new memories I've been able to store for future viewing that I accumulated chasing various species of waterfowl, grouse and whitetails. There is still a bit of hunting season left for those so inclined to chase snowshoe hares and listen to the music of beagles yowling in the depths of a cedar swamp.
But the bulk of the fall excitement is over, and I have definitely plunged into my in between time! But I have a savior to compliment my daily snowshoe hikes. Books! Great outdoor books filled with great outdoor tales written by great outdoor writers! I can immerse myself in a wide variety of outdoor adventures through the pens of the likes of Gene Hill, Ed Zern, John Gierach, Elmer Keith, Robert Ruark, Patrick McManus, Nick Lyons, Zane Gray, Byron Dalrymple, Cory Ford, Nash Buckingham, Archibald Rutledge, and my all time number one favorite outdoor writer - Gordon MacQuarrie! These talented gentlemen can transport me to a wide variety of locations and entertain me for hours!
Gordon MacQuarrie was one of Wisconsin's own native sons. He was born in Superior, WI on July 3, 1900 but unfortunately died a fairly young man on November 10, 1956.
MacQuarrie began his writing career shortly after graduating from Superior State Teacher College, after which he was hired as a reporter for Superior's daily paper, The Evening Telegram. He later became its managing editor before moving on to bigger and better things at the Milwaukee Journal, where his talented writing career peaked and eventually ended.
Beside his outdoor columns in the Journal he was a freelance writer for the "Big Three" outdoor magazines, Outdoor Life, Field and Stream and Sports Afield, as well as other less noted publications. His first major outdoor story appeared in Outdoor Life in September of 1931 and his last major story appeared in Sports Afield after his death.
MacQuarrie penned a total of about 75 feature stories, all of which have been captured for eternity in a series of five books published by Willow Creek Press.
"Stories of the Old Duck Hunters and Other Drivel" was first published by Stackpole in 1967 and was later reproduced in its original form by Willow Creek Press in 1985. More MacQuarrie material next appeared in "More Stories of the Old Duck Hunters", (1983) followed by "Last Stories of the Old Duck Hunters" in 1985. "MacQuarrie Miscellany" was added in 1987 and upon the discovery of 16 additional never before published MacQuarrie tales "The Gordon MacQuarrie Sporting Treasury" was produced in 1998, along with 19 previously published MacQuarrie favorites.
MacQuarrie was the first of a "new breed" of outdoor writers who began to interject ethics, fair chase and serious conservation topics into his fishing and hunting stories. He was one of the first to suggest "the going and the being there" was as or more important to the true sportsperson than the catching and the killing, which earlier writers dwelled upon as the main thrust of most pre-1930s outdoor writings.
The vast majority of Mac's tales are set in his native northwestern Wisconsin. His love of the Brule River plus the woods and waters around the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes radiates from his writings time and time again. Many of his tales begin and end at his rustic cabin overlooking one of the Eau Claire Lakes, a place that takes on a near religious quality for Mr. MacQuarrie and his main mentors.
MacQuarrie's first hand experiences flow from the written page in a timeless manner, allowing readers to smell the flowers, spruce and cedar as he floats a dry fly on the waters of his beloved Brule. You actually hear the babble of clear, clean water as it tumbles over riffles and rapids. You see the early evening fog rise over the river and hear the white throat sparrow bidding the Brule a sweet good night.
His love of duck hunting is foremost in his writing. Your arms sprout goosebumps as you listen to air rushing over feathered wings as blue bills and mallards settle into decoys. You actually feel the affection MacQuarrie has for his main companion, his father-in-law, Al Peck, "The President of The Old Duck Hunters' Association", often referred to as "Hizzonor." And you will also realize full well the feeling is mutual.
The majority of MacQuarrie's stories are built around the relationship that exited between "Mr.President" and MacQuarrie, who is the junior and only other member of the fictitious ODHA.
Like no other outdoor writer I have ever read, Gordon MacQuarrie brings you along with him on his adventures in living color and high definition! He and Mr. President not only frequently ply the gin clear water of the Brule for trout but also take you along on other famous area streams such as the Iron, Marengo, Namakagon, Cranberry and "small un-named brook trout cricks."
MacQuarrie and Mr. President are complete outdoorsmen. They will fish any and all species between trout and muskellunge. They hunt grouse, sharptails, deer, bear, rabbits and - most frequently - ducks. MacQuarrie's writing are a shear delight to read and in my humble opinion should be required reading for all young anglers and hunters as well as we old timers!
MacQuarrie is as much a philosopher as he is an outdoor writer. Throughout his tales MacQuarrie sneaks in tidbits of wisdom concerning life in general and homo-sapiens role in the scheme of things. It is apparent what appears in print came easily from his pen and there is little doubt the author was having a great time while he wrote.
A small sample of MacQuarrie follows in three of my favorite quotes from his writings.
His love of waterfowling is summed up in a tale he labeled "Ducks" You Bat You!", which contains this gem.
"The outdoors holds many things of keen delight. A deer flashing across a burn, a squirrel corkscrewing up a tree trunk, a sharptail throbbing up from the stubble - all these have their place in my scheme of things. But the magic visitation of ducks from the sky to a set of bobbing blocks holds more of beauty and heart-pounding thrill than I have ever experienced afield with rod or gun. Not even the sure, hard pluck of a hard-to-fool brown trout, or the lurching smash of a river smallmouth has stirred me as has the circling caution of ducks coming to decoys."
When summing up his true feeling about his father-in-law, "Mr. President" in a story called "Upon the Earth Below", MacQuarrie says this; "There was something of the boy about him which most men pretend to outgrow, and, doing so, thus become old."
And from a story about himself, "Nothing to Do for Three Weeks", when he felt "burned out" and took a three week vacation at his cabin on the Eau Claire Chain; "There is much to be said in behalf of the solitary way of fishing and hunting. It lets people get acquainted with themselves. Do not feel sorry for the man on his own. If he is one who plunges into all sorts of work, if he does not dawdle, if he does not dwell upon his aloneness, he will get many things done and have a fine time doing them."
This is vintage MacQuarrie! Most outdoor writers no doubt dream about being able to write like Gordon MacQuarrie. But alas, it's only a dream!
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
Back to CNY - Four Club Calendar